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Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Do the Math

I like math - well, arithmetic, geometry, algebra. Calculus I didn't quite get. I was reading about the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), specifically, the average mathematics scale scores of eighth-grade students, by country: 2003, where U.S. kids finished 15th of about 44 nations. This has led to a new found popularity of something called Singapore Math; Singapore was one of those countries that whipped our butts in this category. Don't pretend that I fully understand it any better than the way I learned it.

Anyway, Lefty asked recently when was the last time we used algebra. On Wednesday, I was eating my Cheerios with bran flakes, which meets my cereal blending criteria, and I was looking at my 2% milk. (Normally, I use 1%, but all of it at the store had short expiration dates.) On the container, it read "38% less milkfat than whole milk". So, it got me to wondering: how much milkfat does whole milk have? And can I figure it out algebraically?
So my ratios are 62 (100-38) is to 100 as 2 is to what? 62/100=2/x. 62x=200. x=3.226. Then, I had to check it here, where I found out that the milkfat content of whole milk must be a minimum of 3.25%. 3.226, 3.25. Pretty close, yes.

Math is fun. Seriously fun. Keeps the mind sharp.

Oh, and I was listening to the soundtrack of the musical Rent recently, where I first discovered that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. But what about leap years? Well, that's 527,040 minutes, but I expect the scantion of that lyric wouldn't really fly.
***
On Friday, gas was $2.839 at the Mobil station I pass daily. Two years ago, people would have screamed the lines from another musical I was listening to recently, Oklahoma: It's a scandal! It's a outrage! Now, it's just a relief.
***
Right now there's a vote to determine what design we'll get for our Christmas card at work. As of yesterday, the vote was 4 for design A, 4 for design B, and 1 (me) for design C, with at least 4 more to vote. If it remains tied, then choice C will be thrown out, and I'll get to decide. Yet another (if imperfect) example of Instant-runoff voting (IRV).
***
The population clock at the Census Bureau website will hit 300,000,000 Americans next month.
***
Speaking of numbers, both Brooklyn Dodger great Duke Snider and James Lipton, my favorite sycophant from Inside the Actors Studio, both turn 80 tomorrow, coincidentally the age my father would have turned later this month. Hall of Famer Snider was immortalized in the Terry Cashman song, Talkin' Baseball, well, at least a few versions thereof. Recently, I saw Lipton's interview with Dustin Hoffman, which reminded me why I used to actually watch that show before Lipton started picking people such as J Lo: an actor talking passionately about the craft of acting.

3 comments:

Scott said...

I use basic algebra and trig at work a lot. I would say that I use algebra everyday, and trig probably every other week. Other then work though I rarely touch the stuff.

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